Burleson County residents west of the Brazos River think of Gene Barber as a fixture in their jurisdiction.
Living in Caldwell, TX, Barber first worked locally as a car salesman and then, some years later, became a mail carrier. He eventually earned the opportunity to serve the citizenry when he was elected county sheriff, a post he occupied until the age of 80.
But, before settling in Caldwell, where he still lives today, Barber led an interesting and exciting life. Graduating from high school at the age of 17, Barber went against his parents' wishes and joined the U.S. Navy in 1942. He became a machinist mate on the escort carrier U.S.S. Corregidor, a vessel which earned four battle stars for combat service in the Pacific theater during World War II.
After the war, Barber moved to Caldwell and when Bryan Air Force Base was re-opened at the outset of the Korean War, he applied for a civilian position there, becoming an aircraft engine technician.
He worked at the base until it closed in 1958.
Barber spoke with Tom Turbiville about his time at Bryan Air Force Base.
Gene Barber was born in Limestone County, TX, birthplace of country music legend Bob Wills. After graduating high school in 1942, Barber joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 and against his parents’ wishes. He became a machinist mate aboard the World War II escort carrier U.S.S. Corregidor. After the war, Barber moved to Caldwell, TX, and worked selling cars. When Bryan Air Force Base was opened, he put his military experience to use, joining the civilian ranks there as an aircraft engine mechanic. Later, he became a Caldwell mail carrier and then sheriff of Burleson County.